The feeling when Siena announced the hiring of Jimmy Patsos last spring was that it wouldn’t be long before the former Loyola (Md.) head coach turned the program around. In his first season at the helm Patsos led the Saints to an 11-9 record in MAAC play, 20 wins overall and the CBI championship.
“The turnaround of our team both in terms of on-court success and talent level happened much more quickly than we thought it would,” vice president and director of athletics John D’Argenio said. “That is a testament to coach Patsos’ ability to recruit quality student athletes and teach and motivate young men to realize their potential. We decided at the end of the season to add one more year to Jimmy’s current contract.”
Siena improved its win total by 12 games in 2013-14, and given the amount of talent returning for the 2014-15 campaign there’s optimism regarding the Saints’ chances of continuing their climb up the MAAC standings. Siena’s top five scorers from last year’s team will return, led by guard Rob Poole (14.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and forward Brett Bisping (11.5, 6.5).
Last year’s team also featured two MAAC All-Rookie Team selections in guard Marquis Wright and wing Lavon Long, with this being the first time that Siena has placed two players on that particular squad. Both Wright and Long return as well for a team that will have three seniors (Poole, guard Evan Hymes and forward Imoh Silas) and two scholarship juniors (Bisping and forward Ryan Oliver) in 2014-15.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.